Lynchburg City Schools (LCS) applied for a competitive national grant and has been awarded $8.4 million in federal grant funding that will support student mental health. The grant is a part of the Department of Education’s School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) grant program which provides competitive grants to local education agencies to increase the number of credentialed mental health service providers administering school-based mental health services to students with demonstrated needs. The grant will be distributed over the next five years.
"Similar to national and state-wide trends, we are experiencing a significant increase in behavioral and mental health needs for our students,” said Dr. Derrick Brown, Director of Student Services at LCS. “Our priority is always to provide the highest level of support for all our students. I am excited about what this grant means for our students.”
The grant funds will allow LCS to hire and retain highly skilled professionals to support student mental health needs. In addition to retention bonuses for current school social workers, funding will go toward expanded support positions including a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA), four Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), two school social workers, and eight Restorative Counselors (QMHP-Cs). The grant also covers contracted services such as Therapeutic Day Treatment, Social Emotional Behavioral Support programs, and professional development for LCS mental health professionals.
Lead school social worker at LCS, Shannon Long, understands the impact that the grant funds will have. “Due to the specialized training and skills required to meet the increased need among students and their families, our roles in schools continue to expand,” Long said. “Hiring additional staff will allow us to better meet the needs of our students and families by providing more intentional, targeted interventions and to work more closely with families to connect them to community resources.”
Dr. Brown adds, “Securing funding at this level will immediately impact our mental health and behavioral supports. Improved student mental health and behavior will positively impact all our students, teachers, staff, and our community."
LCS was selected as one of 102 applicants from across the country that were awarded funds as a part of the SBMH grant program.